Mold Safety After a Disaster

When hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods happen and your property is damaged by water, mold can begin to grow. Dana Robison from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains the dangers of mold and how to safeguard your home after a disaster in American Sign Language (ASL).

Preparedness information and resources can be found in the Preparedness section. Information on emergency preparedness for individuals with disabilities or access/functional needs is on the ADA/FNSS page.

Transcript

Hi, my name is Dana Robison, and I’m from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also known as the CDC. I’m here today to talk about mold.

When hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods happen and your property is damaged by water, mold can begin to grow. When returning to a home that has been damaged by water, be aware that mold is a health risk.

Walls and ceilings damaged by water may be discolored, which is a sign of mold growth. There may also be a mold odor, which can smell like a musty, earthy smell or even a strong foul smell. 

Mold can make people sick.  Symptoms may be stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation. People allergic to mold may have difficulty breathing.

People with weakened immune systems and with chronic lung conditions, such as obstructive lung disease, may become ill after coming in contact with mold. If you or your family begin to have health problems after exposure to mold, contact a doctor. If you have a breathing problem like asthma or a weakened immune system, try not to enter a building with mold damage. 

If your house is damaged by water, clean up and dry out your house quickly. Open doors and windows. Use fans to help dry the building. Remove all porous items such as carpet, padding, furniture, mattresses, drywall, flooring, ceiling tiles, insulation, clothes, leather, and paper that have been wet and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24 to 48 hours. These items can get mold growth and should be removed from the home. 

Open windows and doors to provide fresh air. Make sure to wear protective gloves, goggles, and an N-95 respirator or one that provides even more protection. If you plan to spend a lot of time removing moldy belongings or doing work like ripping out moldy drywall, wear a half-face or full-face respirator. Make certain that you follow instructions on the package for fitting the mask respirator tightly to your face.  Always read cleaner instructions when using any cleaning product. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products makes dangerous, toxic fumes.

If mold grows on hard surfaces, clean with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of 1 gallon of water mixed with 1 cup of household bleach. Use a hard brush and soapy water to scrub off mold on rough surface materials like concrete. Do not allow children, pets, or service animals in the house until cleanup is finished.

If the mold covers a significantly large area, consider getting a consult with a professional to remove it.